As the creator and producer of the powerful web series Black Girl’s Guide to Fertility now streaming, Sonhara Eastman creates stories for stage and screen that illuminates the black experience while also spreading awareness about stories that need to be told more often. I caught up with Sonhara as we discussed the inspiration behind Black Girl’s Guide to Fertility, the do’s and don’ts of producing, and her personal journey with fertility.
What inspired you to make the film, Black Girl’s Guide to Fertility?
SE: “I was inspired to create Black Girls Guide to Fertility after confronting my own journey with infertility where I often dodged questions about why I didn’t have kids and neglected to share that I was actively undergoing fertility treatments. I then realized that the silence and secrecy was starting to take a toll on my once positive outlook and I knew I had to find an avenue to express my feelings, which is why I finally took the leap to make the project.”
Infertility is not discussed as often as it should be. What message do you want the film to bring to the viewers or women struggling to come to terms with such a personal ordeal?
SE: “I want this project to bring a sense of normalcy to our community in hopes that “we” as black women can feel open to sharing our stories. I believe it will allow us the ability to join the bigger conversation of infertility as a whole, which of course, affects all races and genders.”
What’s the best advice you have for someone interested in the film industry?
SE: “Work hard, study your craft, and stay HUMBLE.”
What do you love most about producing?
SE: “Let me say this first: Throughout the years, I worked as an assistant to several Producers and was able to see the challenges they faced when making a film. I then used what I learned to make my own project and knew that Producing could be difficult at times because at its core it’s managing. However, what I love most is the creative side of producing, mainly because I’m a visual person and can hear and see scenes in my mind and know how I want it to look from beginning to end. I think it’s also important to add that I had two AMAZING producers that came alongside me to ensure the project was a success. Their names are Carmen K. Jones and my husband, Ronald Eastman, II.”
What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve made while starting or running your business?
SE: “The most significant sacrifice was utilizing my own funds and securing loans to ensure my film was a success. My motto being quality, not quantity.”
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
SE: “Yes. I realized when we got to post-production that the opening scene was missing the oomph I wanted it to have. As a result, I added photos of the footage to enhance the intensity of the scene, which worked out beautifully.”
What is the best advice you have for someone starting a web series?
SE: “Find a strong core team, which should involve a period of getting to know each other to ensure that it will be a smooth, workable process.”
You’re very open about your infertility journey. Tell us about your journey and how your story is helping other women.
Soon as I got married, I missed my cycle, and my husband thought I was pregnant. However, when I went to the doctor, she told me that I wasn’t. This would be the first no, in a series of no’s as we were both later diagnosed with having fertility issues. To be specific, I was told that I had PCOS, even though I ovulated every month and didn’t fit the typical characteristics of the disorder, and he was told that he had low-motility, after undergoing a reverse vasectomy. Our diagnosis resulted in us moving forward with fertility treatments, which to do date have resulted in six or seven failed IUI’s (we stopped counting) and two failed IVF’s. We have since moved onto our third IVF and believe that persistence and prayer are crucial to our journey. I also think that my story, along with my project, will help to let other women know that they are not alone, and that’s what’s most important to me.”
What is the best business advice you’ve received when you first started producing?
SE: “I don’t know if it’s advice per se, but a Producer once told me that I was a nice person in a nasty business. I, unfortunately, have come to realize that being “nice” doesn’t always serve well when handling business.”
What is your biggest goal this year?
SE: “To shoot my feature film based on Black Girls Guide to Fertility.”
About Sonhara Eastman
Sonhara Eastman is a playwright and screenwriter from New York. She received her MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch. Her plays are known for illuminating the black experience and include Pearl, The Club, and Black Girls Guide to Fertility. Sonhara’s plays have been workshopped at 7 Stages, The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Playwrights Playground, Working Title Playwrights Ethel Woolson Lab at the Alliance Theatre (Black Box), The Goldberg Theatre at NYU, and the La MaMa Theater.
She was a finalist for the National Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellowship and a semi-finalist for the Made in New York Writer’s Room Program. She has worked for numerous production companies such as E! Entertainment, MTV, ESPN, Lifetime, Lionsgate, and the Comcast Network. Sonhara is a member of the Writer’s Guild East and Dramatist Guild. She is currently developing several projects for the stage and screen.